Guest Blog about pain by Dr. Michelle Bengtson
You’re probably either walking through a painful trial right now, just came out of one or are preparing to enter one. Jesus warned us that in this life we would experience trials, pain, and suffering (John 16:33). Sometimes our experience with pain has little to do with us & more about what God wants to do for others!
Dr. Bengtson’s Story of Pain used by God.
During the great financial crisis, my husband was laid off from work, so I jumped in and did more to pick up the slack for what he was unable to do. I got into a very bad cycle of working at my private practice over 100 hours a week. I would work until midnight or 1am, run home, take a quick shower and a power nap and be back at the office by 3 or 4am. Until my body couldn’t anymore.
My body shut down, and I became deathly ill. I underwent two emergency surgeries, was kept alive on IV-hydration and nutrition, I was placed on medically-prescribed bed rest for 5 months, and I dwindled from 113 pounds to a skeletal 74, which for frame of reference is 30 pounds lighter than I stand before you today.
The longer I remained ill and unable to do what I was accustomed to doing, the more depression got a foothold to the point that if that was going to be my life going forward, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on living. I prayed and told God that if I had to go through it, I wanted it to count for something. I didn’t want my pain to be wasted.
While I remained so ill, all I could do was sleep, pray, listen to praise and worship music, and watch sermons online. What I detested initially, in my forced rest, I came to cherish because I came to appreciate my time cocooning with God.
Once I was medically released to begin returning to my private practice on a very reduced part-time schedule, I cried all the way to work that first day. I felt weak, I was tired, and I didn’t want to leave my cocoon with God. But I detached my home IV, put on long sleeves to cover my bruised arms, and slowly walked back into my office waiting for my first patient of the day.
She was a new patient, and this would be our first time meeting. When I asked her why she had come and how I could help, she explained that she had been through a medically complex condition, she was depressed, her arms were bruised and battered from all the blood draws and IV’s, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to go on living.
I sensed in my spirit, God telling me, “Show her.” I don’t know if you’ve ever argued with God, but I did. In mental health, we are trained to be a blank slate and not to share personal information with our patients, and yet I knew God was telling me to “show her.”
On the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I looked into her eyes, and with great compassion, as I rolled up my sleeves and showed her my bruised and battered arms, I shared with her that I felt there was a reason for her to be in my office on that particular day to know that she was seen, she was loved, and she was cared for, and that there was a purpose and a plan for her life, and it wasn’t over. She wept and whispered that she finally felt seen, and that if I could get through my ordeal, she could too.
That’s what we all want in our pain, isn’t it? To be seen. To be loved. To be cared about.
But what if our pain isn’t about us, but about those God will minister to through us?
Had I not gone through that illness, I couldn’t have shared so authentically and vulnerably just what my patient needed to hear, from someone who understood.
You never know when God might use you or your painful experience unexpectedly. But if there’s one thing I know, God uses pain for good. Rom. 8:28 encourages us, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
When I crawled in the valley of depression, you would have been hard-pressed to convince me that anything good would come from that experience. But that time made me press in deeper to my relationship with God. It showed me there was purpose in pain. It also prompted a deeper level of understanding and compassion for others who walk through that dark valley and feel alone.
Often, we cannot relate to some experiences unless we have been through them personally. Now that I’ve walked that dark and lonely valley, I have much greater understanding and compassion for others who presently walk that road.
My heart goes out to them from a place of knowing. While the specifics of our experience may be different, I can relate on a level of shared pain, and I can enter in with them from a perspective of “Me too!” that I never could have if I had not traveled that road myself.
In your pain today, let me encourage you that God sees. He is with you, and he will use your pain for your good and for his glory in his perfect way and perfect time. God never calls the equipped—he equips those he calls. Our experiences qualify us for his service. God uses our pain for good. Our pain is never wasted.
Look back on your pain journey—where can God uniquely use you to enter in with another? What we do as writers, speakers, and retailers is make ourselves available to share resources that offer a hopeful hand to others in pain. God not only doesn’t waste our pain, but he uses it for good.
More about my guest
Dr. Michelle Bengtson is a hope concierge! Whether as a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist, host of the award-winning podcast Your Hope Filled Perspective, or the author of several award-winning books including Hope Prevails and Breaking Anxiety’s Grip, her passion is to share hope and encouragement with others. Her newest release is The Hem of His Garment: Reaching Out to God When Pain Overwhelms. She loves all things teal, spending time with friends and family, taking long walks, or sitting by quiet shores, and it’s a bonus when any of those are accompanied by sea salt caramel chocolate! You can find her and her hope-filled resources at DrMichelleB.com
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Grace and Peace to you,
Yvonne M. Morgan is a Christian #author, #blogger, and #speaker. #BibleGatewayPartner
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”